The governor’s Task Force on Property Tax Reform voted Wednesday to propose a bill in the next session to consolidate and eliminate dozens of levies as well as streamlining property tax law.
A total of 52 property tax mill levies by various political subdivisions are proposed for elimination.
In addition, dozens of mill levies for political subdivisions are proposed for consolidation and caps.
Mechanisms, including voter approval for additional levy authority, allowing for votes to renew levies and grandfathering previous levies, also are part of the bill.
The property tax bill is the result of more than a year’s work following the task force’s formation in November 2013 by Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who also has chaired the group.
“I’m very pleased with the results we’ve been able to come up with,” Dalrymple said. “It is truly a reform of our property tax system.”
Dalrymple said he believes the consolidation of mill levies will allow political subdivisions more flexibility in where funds are spent.
For county mill levies, a total of 14 are proposed to be combined under general operations and be capped at 60 mills with county commission approval. The current combined levies for counties would be allowed through the end of 2016.
For cities, a total of
24 levies are proposed to be combined for general operations, capping mill levy authority at 105 mills. The current combined levies for cities would be allowed through 2016. Cities over
105 mills would then have four years to get below the cap.
Under the bill, both cities and counties also would have caps on levies for items including capital construction and road funds. By a vote of the people, additional mill levy authority would be an option as well.
Dalrymple said the review of the state’s property tax laws was long overdue.
“Our property tax policy over the past 50 years has been kind of adopted one piece at a time. This is the first time any group has taken a big-picture approach to the system,” Dalrymple said.
Sen. Dwight Cook, R-Mandan, said the task force had done its job well. Cook, who chairs the interim Taxation Committee, also serves on the task force.
Cook said, despite concerns by some last year when the governor created the task force, the group and the Taxation Committee have both worked well and kept each other informed of their work.
“The governor certainly kept the interim committee abreast,” said Cook, noting that his committee passed 10 bills related to property taxes for the 2015 session.
“There’s nothing that conflicts” with what the task force has been working on, according to Cook, who said some of the interim committee bills might end up being added to the task force bill during the session.
Among those that could be merged into the task force bill is an interim committee bill that states that elected boards, such as city and county commissions, have the final say in mill levy changes proposed by unelected boards.
Dalrymple said the debate over the task force’s work will be a lengthy one during the 2015 session.
“I don’t expect this bill to arrive on my desk until the very last day of the session,” Dalrymple said.